Finished: My First Lace! 1940s Lace JumperAfter making projects in plain stockinette, a simple rib with minor cabling and another simple knit-purl stitch combo, I finally felt like taking the next step. Also, I wanted to make something I can wear on warmer days. I have been drooling over both Susan Crawford's Lady's Evening Jumper and the Kasha cardigan but found them a bit too intimidating to start my lace adventures with. Then I remembered another pattern I really liked that was in my Ravelry que: The Elinor Jumper from the Australian Women's Weekly.
This jumper's stitch pattern was perfect for me as a first lace pattern. The stitch is a multiple of 12 sts over 16 rows but the wrong side rows are all purl. Very easy and easy to remember especially when you "get" how the stitch pattern is build up. The yarn I used is Stylecraft Life 4 ply in Ice Blue. It's 25% wool, 75% acrylic and super mega soft. I couldn't have picked a more appropriate yarn (within my budget). It also has a pretty nice drape. I took the Craftsy class Lace Knitting: Basics and Beyond for some extra hand holding. (I have become seriously addicted to Craftsy by the way!)
This jumper provided me with some challenges but it was exactly the right balance between keeping me on my toes without being too frustrating or difficult. The biggest challenge I had was with the sleeve seam increases. Let me explain. A lace pattern - for those who don't know - consists of increases (mostly yarn overs to make the holes) and decreases. In order for the the knitted fabric to have straight edges and keep the same number of stitches on your needles, you need to work a decrease for every increase. With this jumper, the side seams are worked straight and for the armhole and neckline shaping the pattern gives stitch by stitch instructions. But when you get to the sleeves the pattern just says to increase every X rows. If you would do that and follow the stitch pattern normally, you get wavy edges which is obviously a problem! So after giving it some thought I ended up increasing or decreasing extra stitches on the sides as necessary to keep the same number of stitches in a row. It took some extra thought but I now have beautiful sleeve seams :)
Fit & blocking
The pattern is designed for a 32/33 inch bust but with the given tension has a finished size of 33". To get the jumper to fit my 31.5" bust nicely I had to knit it with 3,75 mm needles and take 1 pattern repeat off the front and back. I couldn't get row gauge but ended up solving that problem by blocking it out lengthwise. Wet blocking didn't work so I turned to the original 1940s method. I pinned it out lengthwise, a bit longer than the measurements I wanted, and pressed it gently on the wrong side under a towel with lots and lots of steam. This worked like a charm and made the lace look great. I knitted the first pattern repeat of the sleeves - after the ribbing - with 3.5 mm needles to make them fit better around my tiny wrists.
Originally the pattern doesn't have a neck opening and is just supposed to be pulled over the head. Although I might have been able to pull it over my head, I was afraid it would put too much stress on the lace so I left part of the right shoulder seam open and finished it with a row of single crochet with crocheted button loops and added 3 buttons. For some reason my sleeve heads turned out very big and making the 4 original pleats looked very odd. So I decided to gather them instead and then applied some steam to make them 'shrink' a little.
In conclusion I can say that this pattern was surprisingly easy! I couldn't have chosen a more suitable pattern as a first lace project. So if you are thinking of giving lace a try, this pattern is a good place to start. This jumper has definitely got me hooked on lace, and I can safely say that there will be many many many more pretty lace garments from now on. At first I never understood knitters obsession with lace but now I totally understand. Although I don't think I will be knitting loads of lace shawls ( maybe just one :) ). I will probably be back in a week or so with my next finished knit: the Jan Sweater.
For my knitting friends: Have you ever knitted lace? Are you intimidated by it?
Lots of love,